4th on Broadway co-grand marshals share story of loss, serving community

They turned their family tragedies into ways to help others.
Published: Jul. 3, 2023 at 6:42 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Danny and June Koch have been selected to lead the 4th on Broadway parade this year, marking the beginning of the 33rd annual 4th on Broadway Celebration.

The Kochs are known for their service to the community, despite the many tragedies that have befallen their family.

Danny and June’s son, Paul, was deployed to Iraq in 2006. Nearly one year later, they received a phone call no parent wants to hear.

“He said, ‘thank you, Mr. Koch for calling me back. Have you spoken or heard from Private Paul Hunter Koch in the last 36 hours?’” Koch described the call. “He said, ‘Mr. Koch, Private Paul Koch was hit by an IED this morning, he’s received complicated injuries.’”

The first day their son arrived in Iraq, June sent him an email.

“She says, ‘dear son, if you get lost in the fog of war, you get wounded, injured, separated from your fellow soldiers, look to the east and the porch light will be on, it will lead you back to safety,’” Koch said.

The Koch’s have left their porch light on for any and all soldiers who need a home. After their son’s injury, they dedicated themselves to bringing awareness to veterans’ issues. They have partnered with organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Friends of the Monument of Courage.

“We all work together on veteran suicide,” Koch stated. “Twenty vets die by suicide daily; in Lubbock County, we’ve had probably 15 in the last 36 months.”

The Kochs also had another son whose experiences have inspired them to help other people.

“We lost our youngest son, Jay, to an overdose: heroin laced with fentanyl,” Koch said.

Koch stated Jay fought addiction for half of his adult life before dying 2017. During his fight, Jay wrote about the dark truths of addiction.

“And that book, if you read it, will scare the holy heck out of you,” Koch said. “Maybe that’s why we had it published, so maybe it can change and influence behavior. It’s no longer about Jay, it’s about those that come after Jay.”

The Kochs hope publishing his personal writings brings attention to those struggling with addiction and their families.

“The important thing about Jay’s death is what we’ve hopefully tried to do since, is talk about his death,” Koch said.

4th on Broadway organizers selected Danny and June to lead this year’s parade, stating they have turned their family tragedies into ways to help others.

“The greatness of America is not its elected officials; the greatness is its ordinary citizens. They are the soldiers that lead and protect our country,” he said.

Danny and June Koch will be leading the parade starting July 4 at 10 a.m. The parade route starts on Broadway and ends at Mackenzie Park.